Interview with Leftenant AR7, Commander Angel Nova, Chief Engineer Atom Bomb, Professor Greg Arius, Major Jimmy Boom, Chaos Agent Ion
By Bill Jones
Cover Photo by Chiara Corsaro
Read our full interview with The Phenomenauts here:
At New Noise Magazine, we want to know the bands we cover as well as we possibly can, and that sometimes means realizing they’re into a lot more than just music. So we’re delving deeper into some of their others interests, starting with space-rockers The Phenomenauts.
We had a roundtable chat in March with Leftenant AR7, Commander Angel Nova, Chief Engineer Atom Bomb, Professor Greg Arius, Major Jimmy Boom and Chaos Agent Ion to discuss three topics of particular interest to them — atheism, civil rights and bowling — as well as what was like to get their own comic book, Adventures in the Third Dimension.
When I asked what the band was into outside of music and science, you told me atheism, civil rights and bowling. That’s obviously a quite varied trio. Why those three things, and do they relate back, in any way, to your passion for science?
AR7: Well, science is the search for the truth. And as we learn more and more about it, we find that the truth always comes down on the side of progress.
Ion: Science can help cut through superstition, bigotry, prejudice and nationalism. When you start to use the scientific method, lots of beliefs start falling away. If you want to be racist or transphobic and try to present it to me as if it’s rational, well, science is going to pop you right in the chops, ‘cause I’ve got people with degrees that disagree.
Greg: And then you can celebrate knowing the truth by going bowling!
Angel: And bowling involves physics and magic.
Is everyone in the band an atheist? I would assume the decision comes, at least in part, from your devotion to science. Do you think there’s room for both God and science, or are they inherently contradictory?
Angel: Most of us are atheists, but some of us are super-atheists. [Laughs] And if you do your research, you can easily see where people’s belief in God comes from. They were all just ripping each other off for thousands of years. And most of it is nonsensical. I mean, the Ten Commandments doesn’t have rape, enslavement or child molestation in it, but it has “don’t covet your neighbor’s house?” That right there tells me it was from a different time and is irrelevant now.
Jimmy: Humanity used to need all those stories hundreds and thousands of years ago, but we’ve evolved past it now. We don’t need it anymore.
AR7: And the relevance or irrelevance of religion has nothing to do with whether or not God exists.
Ion: If someone has evidence for the existence of God, then go ahead and get your study peer reviewed and collect your Nobel Prize. And don’t give me no “beautiful sunset” arguments.
Jimmy Boom: “Tide goes in, tide goes out…” [Laughs]
As far as civil rights go, are you interested in civil rights in a historical sense, or do you see it as something that’s still progressing today?
Angel: We would love to think of it in a historical sense only, but people are getting denied voting rights based on their skin color, and friends of ours in Oakland are getting beaten to death because they’re transgendered — seems like we still have progress to make.
And bowling. Why not, right? What do you guys love about bowling?
Angel: We look cool doing it.
Greg: Some of us more than others.
AR7: I find it interesting that the professor is better than me when he’s the one who programmed me. I always somehow get exactly 50 points less than him — curious.
Ion: What is a “bowling?”
Who’s got the highest average and highest game in the band?
Everyone except for Greg: Greg!
Atom: He actually got the highest score at Punk Rock Bowling in 2011 with a 267.
Greg: My highest ever is 279, though.
Angel: No one cares, Greg. Now go build me a new robot — one that bowls good.
What was it like being involved in your own comic book?
Angel: We actually weren’t involved at all, but the writers and artists who did it were amazing and did such a great job!
AR7: Yeah, we were a little nervous about how it was going to turn out, but it was so cool. We’re really proud of it! Plus, it has me without a shirt, and I look almost as buff as I do in real life.